Over the last few years of studying Japanese, I’ve met more than a handful of J-pop fanatics. Heck, some people I know owe all their mad Japanese skills to studying AKB48 lyrics like their life depends on it. Honestly, those people have always impressed me more than how much I Can’t Believe It’s not Butter actually tastes like butter. I’ve even tried to emulate their study habits in the past thinking it would work for me. But, I have a secret. Shhh don’t tell anyone… but I’ve never really had a thing for J-pop. I’ve just never been able to get into most J-pop artists. What was I to do?! I searched the interwebz far and wide for J-pop I could listen to on a regular basis, but it only lead me down a darker path.

Two years ago, while undoubtedly procrastinating school work, I came across a music video called “美人” (Bijin) by Super Junior, and my mind was blown. “Why, this isn’t like other J-pop at all!” I thought. Well, I was right and it really wasn’t J-pop at all, but a K-pop song translated into Japanese. And from there, I fell absolutely in love with it and was helplessly swept under the K-pop carpet never to see the light of day again (someone stop the madness).

K-pop was a new thing for me at that time (as I’m sure it was for many people in the US with Gangnam style) and I couldn’t help but wonder why there were so many songs in Japanese. I found out that K-pop wasn’t as new a phenomenon in Japan as it is in the West. Quite the contrary, in the last decade K-pop has flared in popularity among youth not only in Japan, but many other countries such as India, the Philippines, etc. Even so, Japan is a special case.

The Dawn of K-pop in Japan

The K-pop industry isn’t all that old itself. It started in 1995, so that means it’s probably younger than you, just a wee baby. It wasn’t long after that K-pop became a trend in China and Taiwan, but it wasn’t until 2003 that K-pop started gaining a presence in Japan (I was still listening to 50 Cent and Avril Lavigne on the radio). It looked as though K-pop would never catch on in Japan, but the stars aligned when BoA and DBSK infiltrated the J-pop scene and the K-drama Winter Sonata became a smash hit in Japan, starting a K-frenzy.

“Hey mommy! Look at the K-pop fans!” “Shhhh honey, don’t point.”

Although K-pop is a huge deal in Japan now, nothing was taken for granted in the beginning. Due to its economic success and a whole slew of political reasons, Japan has been regarded with a combination of intimidation, admiration, and even loathing by its surrounding countries over the last century. This sentiment, and the fact that Japan already had a strong, influential pop culture of its own, made it extremely difficult for K-pop artists to make a name for themselves in Japan. Artists such as BoA and Tohoshinki (DBSK), now considered common household names in Japan, had to fight to be accepted in the J-pop scene.

So how did they do it? Very carefully. S.M. Entertainment, a Korean record company, decided that the only way for a Korean artist to gain popularity in Japan was to blend in. After all, the nail that sticks out gets hammered in, right? Korean artists had to speak like Japanese sheep, they have to dress like Japanese sheep, they had to dance like Japanese sheep, they had to be Japanese sheep. This meant adopting Japanese names (DBSK  is known as Tohoshinki in Japan), debuting in Japan with exclusively Japanese albums, and changing their appearance and style to something marketable in Japan.


And it worked. In 2003, BoA became the first Korean artist to break through the Japan barrier by topping the charts with her Japanese debut album Listen to My Heart. This along with the major success in Japan of the hit K-drama Winter Sonata triggered something terrifying and formidable: The Korean Wave! (or 韓流 kanryuu

Catching the Korean Wave: 韓流

Surf’s up, dude.

So why was it so important for Korean artists to make it in Japan? Well, one thing is for certain. THE MOOLAH! Yup, everyone knew that Japan was where the money was to be made. After all, Japan was the world’s second largest economy at the time. Not only that, but Japan was (and still is) a very influential country. I mean, people in their forties play Pokemon for Pete’s sake. So, as soon as Korea saw that they had a chance at popularity in Japan, Korean artists took advantage of the atmosphere and started pouring their work into Japan to get their piece of the cake, creating a wave. And hey, people bought in to the trend. Good and bad alike, many Korean artists have found success in Japan by riding the wave to its shores.

Stranger Days

Many K-pop artists have often been criticized as being cheap and unoriginal, and hey, maybe it’s true sometimes. Even if it was inspired by actual talent, the Korean wave has remained so strong over the last few years in Japan partially because of the novelty of it all. Korean groups didn’t have to debut with new Japanese albums like BoA and Tohoshinki anymore. In fact, artists who tried to debut as J-Pop artists, such as DGNA the Boss and Supernova (whom you probably have never heard of) crashed and burned. So sad! SHINee, on the other hand, was able to sell 24,000 tickets to their “all-Korean material concert” even before they released any Japanese material. All of a sudden, K-pop artists were able to get by without completely adopting Japanese aesthetics. Hence, a bunch of cheap, questionably translated songs and videos were released in Japanese. Observe:

Honestly, these are my favorite kind of K-pop videos in Japanese. The absolute ridiculousness of it all just makes me laugh my pants off! I can’t stop dancin’! It’s pretty kitschy, but even so, there is at least some reference to Japanese culture. Anyone recognize Taitsukun?

Becoming One of Them 

“One of Usssss”

On one hand you’ve got BoA, a JK-pop chameleon, and on the other and you’ve got… well, for example, the video above. So, there’s got to be something in the middle. This is where things get interesting. Although Korean groups haven’t been successful in debuting as purely J-pop artists recently, marketing to Japanese youth in a more subtle way has proven effective by creating a hanryuu niche. Most K-pop artists don’t have exclusively Japanese albums, but many artists debut in Japan with Japanese singles. So basically, they take a popular hit in Korea, translate it into Japanese and slap it on a new J-pop reminiscent video to try and sell it to eager, hanryuu-struck, kawaii-hungry Japanese teenagers. Good ol’ fashion marketing. Some of the most successful groups in this category have been Girl’s Generation and SHINee. Check out “Gee” below, one of the most famous K-pop releases ever:

This was kind of unnerving- yet strangely addicting- for me to watch. You can pretty much see the marketing ploys right before your eyes. The Japanese version of “Gee” definitely attempts to mimic J-pop styles. First of all, the fashion is a bit more conservative and less flamboyant in the Japanese version: nice, clean-cut jeans and white T-shirts instead of pink overall booty-shorts! There are also clear differences in the hair coloring and overall hair styles. In the Japanese version the girls are also wearing noticeably less make-up and making oh-so-kawaii hand gestures. Creepy.

Now, just to be fair, it’s not just the girls who are playing the Japan game. While Tohoshinki has had the longest lasting success in Japan, other boy bands have given their all to make it in the land of the rising sun. Let’s have a look at another comparison video:

I don’t know about you, but the first thing I notice in this one is the severe lack of blonde hair, flamboyant feathers, and mohawks in the Japanese version, not to mention the complete removal of the dance breakdown. Perhaps these young boys are trying to pass as the conservative, gentle type to all those anxious Japanese girls, who knows?

In general, the more a K-pop group has adapted to the Japanese environment, the longer-standing their success has been, if they make it at all. Some artists choose to focus more energy on getting big in Japan by releasing Japanese exclusive music videos. Kara is one of those groups. In 2012 this girls’ group won Best New Artist at the Japan Gold Disc Awards with their mesmerizing booty dance, “Mister.” I knew this song and dance way before I knew it was a Japanese video or even who Kara was. Ahh the power of marketing. Yeah, shake your badonkadonk!!!

Even though Korean artists have been able to gain popularity quickly in Japan by riding the wave, only the strategically marketed ones have made it to Japan’s top charts in recent years. Even PSY, who failed to go through with his plan to make a Japanese version of Gangnam style called “Roppongi Style,” was too “Korea” to be as popular in Japan as he was around many other parts of the world.

The Future

Just like a wave in the ocean, the Korean wave can’t last forever. Or can it? No one really knows. Already, the girl-screaming, pants-peeing fascination with K-pop has started to die down in Japan. But, K-pop won’t die that easily. Artists have already started to fight back. Recently, I’ve noticed that some K-pop groups are starting to revert back to the ways of BoA and debuting in Japan the old fashioned way. Although they’ve had a presence in Japan for a while now, Super Junior will be releasing their first ever Japanese album this month. I have to show you the ad, just because it’s so painfully cheesy it makes me cry a little:

Japan has been a special market for the K-pop industry because of its level of influence and potential for profit. Looking at K-pop success from a Japanese perspective can give you a really cool insight into some of the subtleties of Japanese culture. Although I never really got much out of listening to J-pop, looking at K-pop songs in Japanese gives me hours of entertainment just because it adds a whole new layer to the cake. It’s also useful information to know if you’ve ever studied Japanese from K-pop songs (or have planned to) because as you can see it’s not always the most reliable thing in the world. But if you think K-pop in Japanese is pretty righteous and you can get your groove on to it, the motivation you get from it alone can be really powerful.

So what do you think about K-pop in Japan? Do you see any major differences in the Korean version versus the Japanese version? Do you think the Korean Wave will last? Have you ever studied Japanese from K-pop? Let me know in the comments below!

Girls’ Generation lead K-pop invasion of Japan
Counterpoint: K-Pop In Japan: No Special Treatment

  • Ginger

    The Hallyu wave in Korea actually is calming down some. Not as many groups are promoting and they seem to not quite be as popular as they were a year ago.

  • Ginger

    In Japan, not Korea. That was a slip.

  • Ginger

    In Japan, not Korea. That was a typo.

  • vivianlostinseoul

    Interesting article, well done. Also, the comparisons between the Korean and Japanese versions just go to show how BAD fashion is in Japan. I used to live in Korea, and people are way more stylish/avant-garde there. Japan is so conservative and focused on the “cute”, while Korean fashion is actually attractive and sexy. Japan, learn some lessons!

  • Aya

    I’m so happy that my bias Kyuhyun is the first face we see in that Super Junior ad that is all ok bye

  • LSV

    K-Pop is already slowly disappearing. They brought it upon themselves by debuting a new group in Japan almost every week back in 2012. Lately only Tohoshinki and occasionally 2pm and T-ara are somewhat relevant. Event Girls Generation sold less than 1/3rd the amount of what GENERATIONS from EXILE TRIBE sold.

  • Me

    Cute isn’t bad. :/

  • Clarissa

    I respect Tohoshinki for being able to be successful during their time when Japan wasn’t that open to kpop yet. I can imagine it to be really hard. The younger artists nowadays take it for granted.

    Oh and I was actually introduced to BoA with her Japanese songs and not her Korean ones. :)

  • Shuji Terayama

    In fact there is only one musician in Japan called Susumu Hirasawa, it seems like everybody else is trying to copy him.

  • Epell

    You know that Tohoshinki is just Japanese pronunciation of 東方神起 right?
    Koreans read it as Dong Bang Shin Ki and Japanese read it as Tohoshinki.

    Saying DBSK changed their name to Tohoshinki is like saying Tom changed his name to Tomu.
    Just a thought.

  • Ana

    Yes, Super Junior!

  • eeeee

    roku go was one of the most hypnotic videos i’ve seen in my life.
    it’s like i got rickrolled by koreans.

  • Yuume

    I was sad that Supernova didn’t do so well. I’m glad they at least got an honorable mention here. Now that I’m thinking about it, I knew BoA was Korean (funny because she was the first artist to get me into JPop). Isn’t Rain Korean as well? I think he had a brief popularity spurt in Japan too, because I discovered him by his Japanese album.

  • Nelem Naru

    I used to like K-Pop more than J-Pop a couple years ago. But then I discovered doujin electronic music.

  • McKe

    I often thought the Korean versions tended to be more like something they would/could market here in the U.S. The fashion is similar and the actions are similar to what we see in MV’s here. So it kinda seems that Koreans are just better at adapting to a world stage, changing little details here and there to market to larger audiences. Japanese, not so much.

  • McKe

    I wouldn’t say one style is worse than the other… there’s just one you’re more accustomed to being labeled as fashionable (especially here in the U.S.) while the other is different. Give it 5 years and whats considered “good fashion” might be exactly what the Japanese are wearing. Maybe they’re ahead of the times? .. Basically, what I’m trying to say, just because you don’t like it/aren’t used to it doesn’t mean it’s bad fashion, it’s just not your type.

  • Ugh

    A thousand times this, yes.

    If someone in Japan’s music industry had even the most basic understanding of the world, he could promote real talented acts instead of these second-rate manufactured jokes. EXILE and AKB48, Arashi – these are the people on Japanese TV every day, batting their eyelashes for the camera and just generally being talentless hacks. Ugh, EXILE’s dancing is like something you’d see on Funniest Home Videos in the early 90’s. They’re stuck in that era when white people discovered hip-hop and tried to emulate it, but never quite got it. Do you remember that time? It was…sad.

    THOSE are the people who get promoted here. THOSE are the people on TV every night. Does anyone anywhere in the world give a shit about EXILE? Has any non-pedophile in America even heard of AKB48? Um. No. Because they are garbage. Genki Sudo? Kyary Pamyu Pamyu? They NEVER make the prime time TV shows. They NEVER get attention on the talk shows. But who are the two musicians that had huge internet hits in the past few years? Genki Sudo and KPP. Who is currently on a world tour? Um…KPP. Who topped iTunes when her single went viral? That’s right, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

    The people the world actually respects and enjoys are pretty much nobodies here. Genki Sudo was on TV ONCE in the past six months – and he was brought on and brushed off the stage as if he was no one. Stupid Tomochin from AKB spent the whole segment pouting at the camera like a moron. And it’s depressing. Because the real talent in Japan gets brushed under the rug while we get AKB’s childish, soft-porn antics are on TV every night, and EXILE’s pathetic flailing (Dancing? Are they trying to dance?) on a “two hour special” every other month.

    Meanwhile in Korea, they actually adapt to foreign markets and sell their products. Japan is stuck trying to force-feed the world their manufactured garbage while quietly brushing their international success stories under the rug. “Genki Sudo? Who’s that?” Again, Japan is a fine country – the Japanese are great people. Japanese executives? Japanese advertisers? Ethnocentric morons.

  • typo?

    “and my mind was blow” — did you mean “blown”? :)

  • Unbiased

    First, not trying to be mean, but a little proofreading wouldn’t hurt. This article had way too many typos and grammatical errors.
    Second, if you couldn’t find any JPop to get into, you probably weren’t
    looking hard enough. I don’t like JPop idol groups, but with the likes
    of Amuro Namie, Miura Daisuke and so many others, you can’t say that all
    Jpop is the cheesy para-para dancing and kawaii clothing. Koda Kumi and
    Sawjiri Erika are as racy as they come. Plus, Japanese don’t all dress
    kawaii in everyday life. There is even a style called mat-gal as in
    mature gal. They haven’t been on the forefront of fashion for decades
    for no reason. Maybe Kpop stars did try to blend in with what they
    thought was popular and found that it wasn’t necessary because there
    really is more diversity in Japanese music than other countries realize.
    Maybe if you had Jpop you liked and switched over this article would
    have been less biased. I like Kpop too, and I agree their sound is more
    attuned to American tastes, but please don’t discount Japan’s influence on Kpop music either.

  • Pikapu

    SNSD are the best.

  • koichi

    If you let me know what all the spelling / grammar errors are, I’ll get them fixed.

  • koichi

    ty, I’ll fix that.

  • lazuli

    I went into J-pop through Visual Kei….now I listen to lot of Japanese music: from pop to rock, but also enka, anison, touhou music and utaite lol
    And to be honest I knew Kpop through Jpop I think since the first Korean artists I’ve listened to are BoA and Tohoshinki xD

  • NegaJun

    I appreciate JPop’s uniqueness. KPop is just too western for me, they should stick to their roots. Not trying to sound like a weeaboo or anything I just like the energy Jpop has. I mostly have a ParaPara Revolution playlist for when I drive just so I can feel like I’m playing Initial D :)

  • shiro

    This rant lol I love it

    I think even Japanese are catching on to the fact that that kind of mass-produced garbage j-pop is a joke. Whenever I ask my students (elementary and JHS), “Do you like ARASHI/AKB48/whatever else the flavor of the month is?”, the answer is almost always no. And no just no, but emphatic, scrunched up face, screaming, and squirming in disgust no.

    So of course I ask every chance I get. :)

  • アマンダ

    I actually really despise the Japanese versions of Korean songs. They are usually sung with poor pronunciation, the lyrics are dumbed down and I feel like the record companies are doing something akin to serving someone food, having them chew it up and spit it out, then serve them that same meal, just in a mushed up form. I think it is pretty asinine to release the same damn song in a bunch of different languages just to milk that cash cow. For example, while we’re on the subject of Super Junior, there are so many subunits of that group it’s ridiculous. Super Junior M (M for Mandarin) was specifically made to promote in China and release songs in Mandarin. But why do they have the same songs in Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean? It’s just silly. Also, that Super Junior T video has got to be one of the worst videos I’ve ever seen. They make their best music in their native language.

    Another thing, I have no idea why they make the Kpop idols go on variety shows when they can barely speak the language. Case and point, Big Bang. Seungri and Daesung can speak it just fine but the rest are obviously struggling. Whenever they’re on variety in Japan, it’s just Seungri talking, Daesung chiming in and Taeyang, TOP and G Dragon sitting their like confused idiots. It’s just so pointless. I think Tohoshinki is one of the few Korean groups that I can tolerate singing in Japanese. I honestly wouldn’t even have known they were Korean if I hadn’t been familiar with them before hearing their Japanese stuff. They actually learned the language and the culture. Nowadays, once an artist is even a minor hit in Korea, they rush them to Japan completely unprepared. Some are even doing more activities in Japan than Korea. For example, Daesung released a Japanese solo album before even releasing solo material in his own native country.

    It’s great that they’re branching out and all, but the product is just watered down, meaningless, soulless music. Basically the same songs in Japanese with crappy “raps” in English. I enjoy Kpop but in Japanese….not so much. The only exception I make is Tohoshinki.

  • Iago

    Some time ago(1, maybe 2 years) I watched a videoclip of a band and it was said to be making huge success in Japan. The song name was DADA or something with it. The clip had white letters falling upon the musicians in a black scenario. Can anyone help me find it?

  • rambling man

    Firstly…learning a full set of dance moves in time, whilst singing (maybe miming) and trying to engage the audience is hard. And a £1000 of respect to them for getting it all right. Talent is not limited to our opinion of it, e.g. I don’t particularly like 1D but kudos to them for doing whatever it is they do that makes grown women and girls squeal.


    Kpop always struck me as very western influenced and a prime example would be Hyuna (though i will disclaim that bubble pop is annoyingly catchy). Short of the language it wouldn’t sound out of place on the radio during drive time on a dreary afternoon.

    Jpop has a lot to offer, especially the acts backed by Yasutaka Nakata. With KPP and Perfume doing global tours and selling out their London Venues. As well as Jrock Shonen Knife playing the bar down the road, I think its a better time for Japanese Music in general. And with likes of the ‘it came from japan’ podcast introducing to me some great bands, who would of thought that i’d be listening to Tommy february6 this year, or excited at the wave of scandinavian inspired heavy metal bands. As well as stalwarts as DJ Kentaro, Shinichi Osawa, Joe Hisaishi and others. Think Europe has developed a certain penchant for the Japanese music, which leaves me in an ideal place to digest it all.

    Kpop is still beyond me and translating it seems a bit off. Shakira’s music sound worse in English than Spanish, it just a bit off beat like a badly dubbed movie. And that’s how I feel about translations Kpop, SNSD translation took something away from the original. A percussive beat or vowel sound that would of completed the whole phrase, bar, note is missing and replaced with a slightly different sound that the music wasn’t written.

    In short, and i know I rambled, original material in their native language is always going to be superior. But then money talks, so if they want to go on producing more albums give the fans what they want. If people didn’t buy it they wouldn’t do it.

  • Chaice

    It’s by RADWIMPS. :)




    Wow. Sorry, but if you think Japanese people know nothing about fashion, then maybe you just haven’t seen the right Japanese fashion. If you are talking about the crazy shit like Akihabara and Harajuku, then yeah that stuff is stupid and should not be considered fashion, it’s really just costuming. The real Japanese, modern fashion come be seen in their treatment of certain clothes like chambray and denim. Japanese selvedge denim is coveted by denim fiends as well as Japanese chambray shirts. The American company called, THE HILL-SIDE, imports the majority of its cloth from Japan. Yes, Koreans know style too, but it’s really just playing off of Western style, Koreans love Hilfiger and Lauren, as well as Euro-brands, like Gucci, Prada, etc., but the Japanese invented a quirky style they can call their own. Please check out to see what I mean. These are just bystanders in Tokyo.


    Fantastic Elastic! Supersonic Hypertonic! Fun KPOP English! That could be another article! Haha…on DubuFugu!! Hehe!

  • Flora

    You forgot to add visual kei to that rant. I know TONS more people, both men & women, who adore VK & can’t stand idol groups (with the exception of Kpop). It’s one of the biggest fandoms on Tumblr, actually; it is in no way hard to find users on there RP-ing as their favorite musicians or who have even moved to Japan temporarily to see their favorite bands.

    When was the last time anyone actually moved to Japan just to see AKBFGD4552 or whoever? Promoters have to be blind, ignorant, stubborn, or all three to ignore that kind of [marketable] dedication.

    But hey, that just means we get to keep the good talent all to ourselves. ;3

  • flame

    why not also do a j-pop singing different language songs article? I *used* to be into SMAP, so i’ll take them as an example. They came out with battery, which is completely English, and they have two Chinese songs.

  • x_stei

    I’m sending an email. It’s gonna sound mean in a comment. =(.

  • x_stei

    The minute I read this, ROTATION (LOTUS-2) started to play in my head.

  • x_stei

    I consider myself an almost J-pop purist, and the Japanese K-pop that has been released is just… below average for me. It’s inane, overdone, and unsubstantial. Many people here in the comments also seems to think that K-pop sounds best in its native tongue. I’m tempted to agree with them.

    J-pop has a lot of variety. One comment mentioned Miura Daichi, one of the most interesting artists of recent years. He even did a duet with BoA, and the live performance she did with Miura is the only song that I’ve ever heard that sounds and looks better live. Here’s the link: Please do see if if you’re a BoA fan, it’s fabulous!

    I don’t consider Kpop my cup of tea, but there is true entertainment value in SNSD’s dances and vocal prowess of 2AM.

    Beyond that, I really like it when Korean artists do try sincerely to do well in Japan. This usually includes the artists who either speak the language or has active fan bases in Japan. Many of my favourite Korean artists are the ones whose Japanese music I heard before their Korean versions. Of course BoA and Tohoshinki/TVXQ/DBSK(G) are on this list. But the ones that I remember specifically for thinking were cool for being Korean was K and CNBLUE. K debuted, oh I don’t know a long time ago. He didn’t do too well, but he sang really well. (No one cares about that anymore right?) I believe he’s known for singing the theme song for 1 Litre of Tears and also H2. He had to serve in the military, but has gone back to release Japanese materials again recently. CNBLUE had released a Japanese mini album before releasing Korean materials. I heard their Japanese songs way before their Korean songs. I just think that’s so much more respectable because the idol groups who get sent to Japan to debut are part of a machine. And they’re just replaceable parts. While I feel CNBLUE and K have artistic integrity for releasing materials in an foreign environment, not because someone told them to, but because they wanted to and could.

  • yuriko

    Well, they could have called themselves トンバンシンギ in Japan, but they didn’t, so….

  • 소피 ♥

    Japanese K-pop songs just won’t grow on me.
    Because the song was originally adapted to Korean lyrics,
    throwing in Japanese lyrics sounds terrible (at least to me).
    Although I really like the original Japanese songs like:
    どうして君を好きになってしまったんだろう or Girls’ Generation’s Time Machine.

    K-pop won’t die down completely in Japan, but I guess it will never be as popular as it was.
    Most Japanese people I talked to or read their blogs either weren’t interested in K-pop or knew like 3 to 4 artists
    like 東方神起, BoA, Girls’ Generation and Big Bang. Some people also mentioned T-ara,
    but that was it. On the other hand K-pop isn’t that popular in Korea, only among middle school and
    sometimes high school students.

  • Guest

    this string…yes. As soon as Johnny Kitagawa and Yasushi Akimoto get pushed out of the music industry, Japan will be primed for success in the international market.

  • Nenad

    First and furthermost, it seams you are all concentrated on what is happening in Japan , but , no one to ask , what is status of Japan media in Korea ? Anyone wonder that ? Why dont you ask how much liberties exist for Japan media to be shown in Korea ?
    History fact :” Japan dramas , music and movies , were banned totally in Korea from end of the second world war till 1998 , and thats long time, and even after that, still , Japan music videos cant be shown in Korean terrestrial TV , not to mention drama , god forbid !

    Second thing, Korean goverment is one who made this Korean Wave, better to say , this is Cultural war, and that war started when they lifted their band on Japan culture 1998 after pressure from Americans , after that, they pored tons of money in creating system for creating stars and idols, just so that they could defend their culture from Japan culture .

    Do you ask your self what kind of life before they become celebrities , had Korean stars? They are mostly all picked at auditions from early age, and then trained for years in everything , acting , sinning , dancing , and learning japan and english language .
    Now, they combined some of the tactic from Japan idol makers, but they made it at extreme, they wanted to be 100% sure that their stars will be better that Japan stars, so there is one final touch in this , and that Plastic surgery, Yes Korea is now No1 in world for number of surgeries they made .
    Now to return on why they are so much in Japan , and who decided that they should go there ? Remember, while they are trained in evrithing for them to become stars, they learn japan language too, thats right, decision is made long tame before they started to train, you know , best defense is offense, and that is what Korean wave really is, offense tool for eliminating Japan cultural treat to Korea, they dont like Japan at all, their real mission is to dominate Japan market, not only with music, but with drama too, but now, they have one more goal, and that is , to create illusion how they are representing whole asia , they creates so called United Asia Management , but in there, only korean companies are involved, and they want to promote ‘Hallyu’ to ‘Asianlyu’( Asian wave) and at same time promoting Korean artist as ultimate ‘Asianlyu’ leaders .

    And one more thing, just check comments at youtube on real J-pop song , you can often hear comments of hate from Koreans , they often come there and insult artist and their work, and sometimes, if there is way to leave video response, they post Korean pop videos , and even on NicoNico Douga, you can see provocation comments .

    This is cultural war, and at this point , Japan culture is in bad position because, they are still quite blocked in Korea, while at same time, they cant do same thing in Japan.

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    It’s easy time for what?! Don’t leave us hanging!

  • Halimasaadiya

    i didn’t even know that Boa and Younha were korean when i found out i was SO shocked like “omg wow what?”. I’m not really into that much j pop groups. i feel like they are a bit childish(IMO) and a bit nasal-y(is this only me??). Even though the Korean idols are also manufactured they seem way more talented then the Japanese idols that are famous.Also plastic surgery does help the Korean idols i hardly see any Korean idols that im like “hmm not pretty”(men and women). I like it when Korean idols and artist make unique material for japan or any other country. Kpop music did kind of ruin me for J pop music but i still love certain Japanese artist like utada hikaru kyary pamyu pamyu crystal kay and yui.

  • Iago

    Oh, thank you! :D

  • Endar

    I rather enjoyed this article. Furthering my thoughts on how kawaiiness is…not my thing.

  • Jason

    Ughh…..The lead singer of Exile performed an entire concert with The Roots, you know, one of the best Hip-Hop groups of all time.

    So I’m sure people know about him. That dude can sing for real.

  • Alin

    Why should they ADAPT to foreign market? Don’t people like it because it’s different from what they can get at home? Why should they wear the same things and acts the same way? What’s the point?
    Why foreign market = American market? Does Americans artists try to adapt to Japanese market?
    I wonder who is ethnocentric.

    There are different management, different type of talents/artists, they aim at different part of the market and own different part of media. Then, different people are receptive to different market and medias. It’s not like everything is made one way to please one person.

    Johnny’s empire sure own a BIG part of the traditional media. They are still doing things 20th-century-like, don’t have ANY official content on Internet.
    But these idols groups don’t TRY to be active internationally as far as I know. They still own the Japanese market for now and it seems they are fine with it.

    Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s management is the 21th-century-way : YT channel, U-stream, twitter, facebook, and so on. Because she is not on TV as much as some idols doesn’t mean Japan do not recognize her at all. TV is not everything.

    I agree the ways of doing of Johnny’s empire (or AKB) is rotten, and I really understand many people are fed up to the point of throwing up but there is still lots of people who enjoy it and are willing to pay for it. Can’t really blame them for taking the money and producing more.

    Many idols are far from being talentless garbage and have great personality. I wonder what is the value of talent anyway… I think hard work is most valuable, even if the result is not so good. And I assure you there is lots of work (not only from the idols but also from people working with them)
    Idols generally don’t have the choice about what they do, if they are asked to do shit, they do, that’s their job.

    Then what is worst between AKB cute soft-porn and sluty girls you see in every trendy American PV?
    Both are awful to me.

    (English is not my native language, please forgive my mistakes)

  • bomblol

    I really don’t get how anyone can stomach those slick, big pop/rock acts from either country. There lot’s of more obscure japanese music I really like (GELLERS lately!) but, I guess I can say the same thing about most american/western popular music.

  • Sarah

    I’m sorry if this article made it sound like I think Japanese music is all the same, you’re right, and I definitely don’t believe that. I have nothing against Japanese musicians (or even J-pop) as a whole, I just wanted to tell the story of how I came across K-pop in Japanese a couple years ago. I’m really interested in the subject not because I think it’s the best music in the world, but because of the cultural background it carries.

    As for the errors, I really apologize for that. I fixed them and I’m going to try my best to never have that problem again. Thank you.

  • Sarah

    I’m glad you love J-pop! Keep rockin’!

  • Sarah

    hahaha I’ll check it out ;)

  • Sarah

    Oh good idea!

  • Sarah

    Cool! I really respect them, too. I love to see foreign artists achieve success in other countries!

  • Sarah


  • Sarah

    lol right! I will admit to being a slave of marketing as well!

  • Ana

    The main problem here is about groups having their music sold in different versions for other countries. This all can’t be blamed on the groups themselves though. It’s obviously the companies that’s encouraging this idea.

    On the topic of Super Junior, they would be my favorite KPOP group. As a fan, I’d be biased towards anything they do and support it. It’s true they have many sub-groups but I actually think it’s really good. I’d like for them to appear in variety shows of my country and such so that way I would be able to support them even more. I wouldn’t say it’s the best for everyone, but I personally like it. From time to time they don’t sound as good, especially the Japanese ones. I’d have to say that some sound a little too similar. But that’s all there is. I think that any fan only wants to see them active more than anything else, sometimes that lowers the quality of the music when dealing with overseas.

    I think SM is getting the most heat from international fans though. I remember seeing EXO’s chinese ver. of WOLF (drama ver.) re-uploaded. Why? THEIR GENIE APP AD WASN’T THERE. That’s what I’m talking about. That little pop up the won’t go away no matter how many times you click it because it’s part of the MV. I remember watching it thinking something was missing up until then. It’s not like international fans didn’t already hate SM for having those ads. But to actually delete the previous video and put this one, and what, for an ad? They were angry because now they had to keep watching this video for their views to go up.

    I don’t think I could completely agree with Super Junior’s translated music being meaningless or soulless, but you brought up a REALLY good point. These days companies are taking too much advantage of international popularity in some ways.


    Also, TVXQ… T_T

  • x_stei

    I saw this outside of a store in Eaton Centre last summer… </3.


    Haha! I saw them at SM TOWN LIVE 2012 in Singapore last year Pretty great. I was not sure if it was all of them, but they performed very well.

  • Shortfilms IN


    I really liked this,Many Skills used as well. I Love it.

    Welcome to

    Triangle of Death Hundreds of thousands of people are forced to leave the crops which grow on the fertile lands of southern Sudan as they flee the civil war which is raging across the.

    – See more at:

  • SamuraiAvenger

    >> Japan is a special case?
    The reason is very simple, Japan’s music market is the second largest in the world.

    So, Korean musicians come to Japan for business.
    (actually, the S-Korean Government supports them for overseas deployment. Korean Wave is a governmental business)

    K-pop is very popular among Asian countries, but “popularity” and “to be a business” is a completely different story.

    Japan has been the second largest music market since the early 70’s. That’s a very basic knowledge about Japan. Is there anyone who can talk based on a fact or data? lol

    Do you think musicians can make money easily, such as in Philippines, Italy, China, Germany wherever…?
    Japan has a healthy market, so that’s why Koreans come.

  • trufax

    One thing I must point out, while you say they have to change their styles to please the japanese market and post snsd’s and beast’s videos as examples, you have to take into account that most of the difference in fashion choices are because the videos are made in different years. Trends come and go, beast’s bad girl (korean ver.) was realesed in 2009 while the japanese ver was realeased in 2012, 3 years apart! 3 years in kpop world are like 10 years irl in terms of fashion trends lol

  • Nats

    I was waiting for someone to mention how much money is made from music sales in Japan.

  • SamuraiAvenger

    Yes, now you see the answer.

    Unlike other industrial products, developing “intellectual properties” is very difficult.
    For protecting intellectual properties, we need 2 powers: enough “population” and “human equality”.

    For example, a company in Singapore can make & sell “MP-3 music players” to the world. But not many musicians from Singapore can sell their music contents to the world. Just because the population of Singapore is just about 5 million. They can’t create “unique” contents for sale to the world.

    In much the same manner, “video game consoles” have been produced in ONLY two counties: United States and Japan. For developing “video game consoles” needs 2 powers: enough “population” and “human equality”.

    “Human equality” closely supports “efficacy of law”.

    India has a huge population. But the efficacy of the law is not strongly protected in the country, so “contents business” can’t grow up a healthy market there.

    Every culture is unique in every place, region, and/or country.
    But uniqueness offers no guarantee of success as a strong/independent business.

  • hangirl_v5

    The reason DGNA disappeared is that in 2012, the CEO of their company was arrested for sexually abusing the trainees. DGNA were not involved but all their their Japanese and Korean activities were cancelled and they were on hiatus for about a year, until they moved to a different label.